The Blue Room Mississippi Blues Trail Marker
601 Clay Street
Vicksburg, MS 39183
One of the most storied night spots in the South, the Blue Room, which stood across the street at 602 Clay Street, was operated for more than thirty years by flamboyant owner Tom Wince. Ray Charles, Fats Domino, B.B. King, Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong and Little Milton were among the many stars that played here. In the 1940s and 50s, Wince was the most important blues promoter in Mississippi, booking bands through a network of nightclubs and halls across the state and in Louisiana.
The Blue Room, a multi-purpose complex that included a ballroom, restaurant, gambling casino, guest rooms and living quarters for owner Tom Wince, Jr., and some of his family, began as a one-room operation selling beer and Coca-Colas in 1937. Wince was born on July 11, 1910 (or 1909 according to Social Security files), in Oak Ridge, northeast of Vicksburg, the son of a white plantation owner Tom Harris and Rosie Brown, an African American who lived on the plantation. When Brown married Tom Wince, Sr., her son became known as Tom Wince, Jr. The Wince's sharecropped until the 1920s, when they moved to Vicksburg.
Wince Jr., a hotel bellhop with a fourth grade education, became a wealthy man, a big spender known as "Fancy Tom" for his elegant attire. Even when segregation was in force, whites attended when certain acts, especially Louis Armstrong, were booked here. Wince, who owned several smaller local businesses, also booked acts into many other venues, including Ruby's Nite Spot in Leland and New Club Desire in Canton.
Urban renewal brought an end to the Blue Room in 1972, but by 1974 Wince had opened the Barrel Club at 1021 Walnut Street. The Barrel Club was famed for its prayer room; religion was another of Wince's keen interests. Also a 33rd degree Mason and a ruler in the Black Elks (IBPOEW), Wince died on September 15, 1978. His tombstone in City Cemetery is adorned with a large star similar to the one above the entrance to the Blue Room.